iPhone: Now, we wait

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I can’t believe it’s finally here. Friday, June 29th. After months of hype… endless promotional campaigns… lots of media exposure. The anticipation. The build up. Today, though, it all comes to an end. I’m in line now, joining about 40 of my closest never-met-before friends. Mere hours from now, all the waiting ends, and finally, we get to see it in person! That’s right, Ratatouille opens today, and I’m going to be one of the first to see it!

OK, so something else is happening today. Some little thing about iPhone availability.

For those who have read my thoughts on the iPhone, you may be surprised to read that I too am sitting in line with the other faithful, given my doubts about this device. It turns out that I haven’t really had a change of heart—I really want to see an iPhone that’s opened for third-party development. But, like those enterprising Craigslist “wait in liner for hire” folks, I’m here today for work. Members of the Macworld team, including yours truly, have been sent out to various Apple and AT&T stores to ensure that we have phones for testing and review—you can read other people’s accounts of their in-line experiences at iPhone Central. It’s a tough job, I know, but someone has to do it.

So what’s it like? Well, unlike those poor folks in New York City, I’m sitting inside, not outside .(I may be crazy, but it’s cool and rainy in Oregon today; no way I’m sitting outside for six hours!) I’m at the Apple Store in the Washington Square Mall, and we’ve got a nicely cordoned off area where we can sit and watch the mall traffic without fear of being trampled. I arrived around noon, and I’m 41st in line. So as long as they’ve got at least 81 phones here at 6:00 p.m.— limit two per customer !—I should get one.

The front of the iPhone line at the Apple Store at the Washington Square Mall in Tigard, Oregon

When I was home packing for this little adventure, it brought back some really old memories. As I packed the folding camping chair, the music system, the snacks, the umbrella (in case I had to go to an outside store), the warm clothes, my mind instantly flashed back to the mid 1980s and camping out (for three days!) to get tickets to Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA tour. I don’t remember much of those three days, beyond endless boredom. However, the fifth row tickets we eventually wound up with were well worth the effort. This wait, thankfully, will be much shorter, albeit much more expensive.

The mood in the line is amazingly upbeat, and the energy is high. We’ll see how everyone’s doing in a few hours, but for now, this is a fun, energetic crowd. An Apple store employee actually just came out and gave us a round of applause, saying “Thank you all for this; we love you!” That, in turn, got the employee a rousing cheer from the assembled masses—since I arrived 30 minutes ago, we’ve added five or so folks to the crowd.

So far, the best decision I made was to bring the folding camping chair—sitting on cold linoleum for six hours really wouldn’t be a pleasant experience. I was one of the first in line with a chair, and since I arrived, six people have left the line, visited the sporting goods store, and returned with chairs of their own. Just call me Rob Griffiths, trendsetter.

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